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INDIA: Labor Trafficking Victims Protest

Citing a recent exposed case of over 40 youths stranded in Kuwait and Iraq without valid documents as "bonded labourers," the victims are said to have been penalised by the Kuwait police while hiding from them with no regular or valid documents.
January 27th, 2006

Chandigarh, Jan 27 -- Nearly 30 youths from Punjab, who returned from Kuwait empty handed after being duped by the Indian travel agents, today threatened of self-immolation if the Punjab government failed to book the agents and got their money returned.

The youths, with some of them accompanied by their family members, were presented before the media at a press conference here by ex-MP Balwant Singh Ramoowalia of Lok Bhalai Party, who demanded that the chief minister should call an all-party meeting to discuss the matter.

''The young men of Punjab and their families are being duped by the travel agents as they are selling their land holdings or taking money in lakhs on credit to go abroad,'' Mr Ramoowalia pointed out.

Citing a recent exposed case of over 40 youths stranded in Kuwait and Iraq without valid documents as ''bonded labourers'', Mr Ramoowalia said the victims were being sternly penalised by the Kuwait police as they were hiding from them with no regular or valid documents.

It may be recalled that Punjab and Haryana High Court had recently served notices to the Punjab government taking a suo-motto action on the news items which stated that the youths in Punjab were duped by travel agents and were forced to work on very low wages under inhuman conditions.

Mr Ramoowalia, however, today said that the Punjab police had already got into action by registering cases against travel agents under section 420 IPC and also on the charges of money extortion and human trafficking.

One of the youths who returned from Kuwait after much struggle, Jagwinder Singh from Pathankot, told reporters that 13 men from Punjab were still stranded in Kuwait without passport or any other valid document. ''They were sick and without medicine, living in a single room, while their agents and the employers there had refused to return their passports,'' he said.


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